The Goal Shebang

I have never really been one to set a New Year Resolution for myself. I mean, yeah, I typically will go with the generic “Oh, I am going to start working out and get really fit!” But then January turns in to February which turns in to March, then April, then May and guess what? I still haven’t done much, if anything, in the realm of eating healthier or exercising.  Despite my previous motivations (or lack thereof), I do intend to start working out and eating better this year. I just turned 30 and I became sober, so I feel like now is a great time to start working on being healthier. If I was able to give up alcohol, it should be easy to start hitting the gym a bit, right?

Aside from that, I do have other goals that I hope to accomplish in 2020. I am going to call them goals rather than resolutions because it seems like resolutions get dropped way faster. I think most of the time people (including myself) treat their resolutions like a sprint when it should be more like a marathon. We have that “I want it all and I want it NOW” mentality and that just tends to hurt us more than help us. We have all heard the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” This applies to most resolutions and goals, as well! Small changes are easier to accomplish because they aren’t as intimidating as remodeling your entire life overnight. I also believe that a big issue with resolutions is that we know what we want but not WHY we want it. You want to get fit, lose weight, be healthier, stop smoking, stop drinking… but WHY is that goal important to you? The more specific you can make your goal the better because it causes it to be more vivid in your mind. This then leads to you being more encouraged and more likely to succeed. Also, framing your goal more positively can help. For example: instead of saying “don’t eat junk food,” we should be wording this more positively, like “eat vegetables and fruit as a healthy snack.”

Other ways to be successful with resolutions/goal setting:

Set realistic goals for yourself; ones that CAN be accomplished. It is much better to succeed at a smaller, manageable resolution than to fail at a larger, unrealistic one.

Be honest with yourself; don’t waste time setting goals just because you think you should. If it isn’t something you sincerely want to achieve, forget about it. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

Believe in yourself! Congratulate yourself when you make progress. There is a grey area when it comes to tackling goals. Most people view everything in black and white; either you achieved your goal, or you have failed. If you have gotten half-way, then you have made progress and should feel good about that!

Kill yourself with kindness. We always support our friends by offering kindness, praise, and positivity, but we don’t tend to speak to ourselves that way. Commit to offering that same compassion to yourself!

 Recruit someone else to join you. If you tend to have better success when you have outside support, then have someone join you on your journey. This creates accountability and inspiration. Just make sure your buddy is a positive force in your life and not a negative one.

With all of that in mind, I plan on trying to better myself in a few ways this coming year. Below is my list of the goals I hope to accomplish in 2020.

My 2020 Goals:

Work out and eat better.
I already mentioned it, so I will just go ahead and start off with this one. To be more successful than in the past with this one, I plan to go slowly and realize that progress doesn’t happen overnight. It’s too hard for me to change all of my habits with the snap of a finger, so I plan on setting a small goal and then once I complete that, I will set another one, and then another, until I am where I want to be. Then my goal will be to maintain!

 Read more.
I have already started this one, but plan on continuing through 2020. I have recently been into psychological thriller/horror books and have read 3 over the past month and have started a 4th (House of Leaves by MZD, which is pretty crazy and once I am finished I will most likely write a review for it). I have been seeing posts on Reddit from others around the world who are setting goals to read a certain number of books in a year. Some people have been ambitious enough to state that they want to read 100 books in 2020! As cool as that would be, I know that isn’t a realistic goal for me. I will commit to reading AT LEAST 20 books in 2020. This will give me around 2 and a half weeks per book. Realistically, I should be able to complete more than 20 in a year, but by setting a smaller goal, I should be able to accomplish it. And reading 20 in a year is much more than I have read in that period of time since I was in middle school!

Be more grateful and practice mindfulness.
Some studies show that gratefulness can improve your happiness by 25%! It can also help improve your sleep, romantic relationships, and friendships. Here is a link to some gratitude exercises that I plan to try regularly.
 Mindfulness, according to dictionary.com, is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It refers to a state that is achieved by focusing on one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations (used as a therapeutic technique). It has been proven that by practicing mindfulness, one can improve well-being, physical health, and mental health. Melissa Heisler states in an article on HuffPost “When we are not mindful, we speak without thinking. We allow our emotions to get out of control. We are worrying about the future or regretting the past. We feel the victim of circumstances, events, and others. Without mindfulness, we are a two-year-old child. We cry when our needs are not met. We don’t understand cause and effect. We expect others to take care of us. We can’t see past obstacles. We are powerless and overly emotional. When you are mindful each action, word, and thought are conscious. Being mindful means taking responsibility for what we are thinking, saying, and doing – and if it is not the experience we want, we change it.” Here are some mindfulness techniques that I am going to incorporate into my life.

Write and create more.
I started this blog because I have wanted to for such a long time. I finally did it and have committed myself to writing at least once or twice a month. I figured that I would probably start out slow but eventually, I want to post more regularly. I don’t want to set myself up for failure by pushing myself too hard, so I plan on leaving this goal slightly vague. I just plan to write MORE. Writing for me is very therapeutic. I love creative writing. Poetry, short stories, descriptive narratives, songs… I definitely plan on working on some more creative writing this year! I also love other forms of art, as well. I want to start making more crafts, painting, doing DIY projects, and hopefully even learn how to build things (with Chad’s help most likely). I also want to start using my video camera to take and create more videos!

This is actually a picture I created with spray paint!

Save more.
Yes, I am referring to money. This one is a tough one for me. I used to be a saver, back in the day. Not so much anymore. The thing is, I LOVE to travel. And the only way I can travel is if I have some money saved up. I haven’t quite worked out what kind of plan I want to use to tackle this goal, but I know that by not consuming alcohol, I should easily be able to save more money than I used to. So that’s a good start! I am still doing some research on good plans to save money because I want to set the goal of going to Iceland for 2021, so if you have any good ideas that have worked for you or someone you know, please let me know!

Continue to stay sober.
Our goals don’t have to be something completely new! Becoming sober has been a newer decision for me (two months down) but struggling with addiction is a lifelong hurdle to jump. I vow to stay clean for all of 2020. This is a realistic goal for me because I have already seen the positive effects that just two months of being sober has had on my mental health, productivity levels, and personal relationships. I didn’t even mention how awesome my internal organs are probably feeling! I have decided that I would rather go through life sober and knowing that I am an alcoholic than in a drunken stupor, denying that I have a problem. One day at a time.

 What kinds of resolutions or goals do you have for 2020? These can be goals that you plan to accomplish sometime during the year or by the end of the year, or they can be things you just plan on starting on in the upcoming year. Comment below and let me know what you plan on working on! Also, if you have a plan to accomplish these intentions, talk about that, too!

Oh Deer

It’s still dark. First light hasn’t kissed the face of the Earth where I am, yet. There is a light snow on the ground and it’s cold enough that I can hear the crunch of the frozen leaves beneath my feet. My eyes have adjusted to the darkness well enough that I can make my way along the worn-down path. A fresh footprint left in the snow where my boot just traveled gives the impression that I am the first to have walked through this area but a quick glance around proves otherwise. Random patterns of tracks grace the surface of the fluffy snow, most of which have been made by trotting deer and scavenging turkeys. I quietly make my way, ducking under branches and side-stepping bushes, to the place where I will sit for the next few hours, scanning for movement while soaking in the essence of nature surrounding me. I can see my breath, the wisps of condensation dancing with the faintly blowing wind. I reach the blind and settle in, silently hoping that today will be the day that a monster buck will grace me with its presence.

I started hunting when I was 12 years old. My dad took me to a hunter’s safety course so I could learn all the proper etiquette, gun safety, and techniques for hunting. I went out with my dad quite a few times over the years but had never really had a chance to harvest anything. Back then, I was a pretty impatient kid. Sitting around outside in the cold trying to be still and quiet was rather hard for me. Once I reached a certain age, I stopped going. I went off to college, so I was never around during hunting season anymore and I basically stopped really thinking about it. Not too long after I graduated from my University, I moved to Michigan from Pennsylvania and found myself in a town that was very hunter friendly. Seeing all the camouflage and orange clad hunters walking around made me miss going out with my dad. I longed to get back out in the woods, but I had never gone hunting alone before. I had no idea where to start and that basically deterred me from getting back into it at the time.

In October of 2016, just a month before hunting season started again, I started having feelings for someone (his name is Chad) and found out that he felt the same. We began our journey as a couple. Guess what? He hunts! I don’t remember if he asked me to sit with him or if I initiated it by asking him if I could go with him. Either way, I was super excited to be experiencing it again! I did not take a gun with me the first year and his daughter and I both sat in the blind with him. He got a buck on opening day. He introduced me to eating deer heart, which is amazing, by the way. The following year, I decided to get a license, as my dad had given me the gun that I had taken out when I would go hunting with him. One of my favorite stories to tell about this particular year is about me having my gun on a huge 9 pointer. Chad asked me if I was going to shoot and I responded that I was, but that I was waiting for it to step out from behind a tree. As the deer was taking that fateful step forward, I heard a loud shot ring out, though I hadn’t pulled the trigger. It was Chad. He took my shot. WHAT A TURD! I got over it, though, and ended up getting my first deer ever later in the season.

I can remember the way my heart was pounding as I steadied the cross-hairs on the optimal spot for a shot. I remember telling myself to take a deep breath and to pull the trigger slowly. I remember saying a little prayer in my head, thanking God for the food and thanking the deer for its sacrifice. I remember pulling the trigger and hearing the breath escape my lungs as I exhaled. We had to track the deer for a bit but found it rather quickly. I discovered that it was a spike. I could tell that it had horns while I was aiming at it, but I had thought that it had more than just spikes. Regardless, I was excited to have taken my first deer and thankful to have obtained some food for the freezer.

Here you can see the 9 point that Chad stole from me.

The next year, I didn’t get anything. I wanted to wait for a monster buck but waited too long and then didn’t end up getting a buck or a doe. Chad tagged out that year with 2 and his daughter got her first deer! She shot it with my gun, and it was a spike, as well. Fun fact: all 3 of his kids shot a spike for their first deer (just like me)!

One shot, one kill!

Regular rifle season has just ended here for this year. I was able to get a rather large doe. Chad still has his combo tag, I still have one tag, and his daughter has one, too. In the county that we hunt in, we can use our rifles during muzzleloader season, which starts soon, and then we also have a late doe season after that. So, we still have some opportunities to secure some more meat!

I know a lot of people may not understand why people want to hunt. There are many benefits to it!

Conservation
If you hunt, you are directly responsible for helping to maintain a balanced wildlife population. The Nature Conservancy considers an overabundance of deer to be the greatest threat to the forests and farms. Deer are also a huge host for Lyme disease and help spread other diseases. Lastly, there were 1.9 million deer related vehicle claims in 2018. You are also acting as a funding source for state agencies that help to conserve habitats. Did you know that just over half (about 55%) of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is funded by hunting tags and taxes on sporting goods? They then spend that money to support hunting activities, research on wildlife, management programs, and buying lands for refuge systems.

Hormone-free, lean, healthy protein
Hunting is the ultimate organic food source. If you hunt, you know exactly where your meat comes from. Deer live completely wild and free lives, just the way nature intended. A deer also has a higher level of activity, as well as a natural diet which contributes to a lower level of fat content. According to the USDA, wild meats are higher in protein, iron and B vitamins than that of other red meat alternatives. It is also a great source of iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Quality time
I know the stigma is that men typically go out and hunt and leave the wives and girlfriends at home, but it seems that more and more women are starting to get interested in hunting. It could be the increase in changes amongst typical gender roles that are pushing women toward the sport. Or it could be that they want to help provide for their family. Further yet, I believe a huge part of it has to do with them wanting to spend more quality time with their partners and children. Just like I described above with my experiences in going out with my dad and Chad also taking his daughter, it provides a great means of bonding time between parents and children. Some people might have something like a deer camp where they can hang out and catch up with friends and other family members when they are not in the woods. I am lucky enough to have met Chad, whose dad owns quite a bit of private land. During the season, we go to his dad’s house and get to spend more time with him, his wife, and Chad’s brothers, usually chatting and eating good food. That’s always one of my favorite parts!

Health benefits
It may not seem super obvious to those that do not hunt, but hunting comes with many health benefits. It isn’t easy. You must trek through the woods and across fields, while carrying your gun or your bow. When you take a deer, you may have to drag it quite a way, too. Studies have shown that simply walking in nature can help reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure and anxiety. Imagine what spending all day in the woods could do for your mental well-being! Check out this awesome infographic for more information on how hunting and eating venison has many health benefits!

These are just a few of the many reasons why you should try hunting, especially if you have been thinking about it. If you have never gone before and have a family member or a friend that goes, ask them if you can tag along. I guarantee you that it will be an enjoyable experience!

Do you have any great hunting stories? Why do you hunt? Remember, I would love to have guest bloggers, as well. So, if hunting is something you are experienced at and passionate about, shoot me a message and let’s collaborate on a post!

Getting to Know Me

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

I have always wanted to start a blog. I love to write. I also love to travel, cook, play video games, DIY, participate in and watch sports, sing, take photos and videos, and drink beer! I remember, ages ago, I tried starting a blog. I was a young kid with a passion for writing but no discipline for forcing myself to actually make posts regularly. I have recently been searching for some sort of life purpose. I am not entirely sure that writing about my experiences and passions on a blog will constitute as fulfilling a life purpose but I feel like it’s a decent start.

My name is Jade and thanks for coming to my blog! In general, I would say this blog would be categorized as a lifestyle blog. I mean, that’s probably the easiest category to throw yourself into in order to be able to post basically anything you want, right? I plan on focusing mostly on travel and food, as those are two things that I am extremely passionate about.

My wanderlust is out of this world. Seriously, I would go to Mars if given the opportunity! I want to see everything and anything. I have traveled a bit (both solo and in groups) and I plan on definitely detailing my trips here. There is still so much more out there to experience and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Cooking is easily another love of mine. I didn’t start cooking until I was about 22 or 23. My Mom was severely sick from cancer and I wanted to help out any way that I could. Prior to this, I HATED cooking. I was like “Okay, you’re hungry? I can make you some cereal or some Ramen. What are you feeling?” I started looking up recipes on Pinterest so I could help out by feeding my family (my Aunt had come to stay with us to help out, too). The first recipe that I ever tried was an Italian stuffed peppers dish and OH MY GOODNESS, let me tell you…. It was amazing. From then on, I became obsessed with making delicious food and eventually even began coming up with my own dishes! I would love to share some of my favorite recipes with you!

My main focus will be on Travel and Food, but that doesn’t define my life. I want to share all of my experiences with you, from playing video games, to taking care of my pet rats, to singing karaoke, to doing some DIY home decor, to even discussing some things in life that can be a little messy and sometimes hard to talk about. I am extremely excited about starting this adventure. I hope you will join me!